A New Series on Struggling Readers and Learning to Read

This series will be posted on my TALK blog (http://frantoomeytalk.blogspot.com/)where the emphasis is on early reading (K-3) and understanding why so many children have difficulty learning to read.  These are the kids trapped in the Achievement Gap and kids who are Dyslexic and not provided with early and effective interventions.

There will be a series of posts on who, why, and what can we do to make sure that all kids become successful readers.


PBS: A Rich Resource on Language & Literacy


Talk Read Sing


First 5 California launched its “Talk. Read. Sing.” campaign in March 2014, with a paid television and radio campaign spanning across California. In addition to broadcast media, the campaign also ran on online media platforms and ethnic media. Messages from the campaign encouraged parents and caregivers to engage in activities with their children that encourage early learning and improve vocabulary skills, increasing children’s chances at success in school and beyond.


Too Small To Fail

We need to  nurture language and  literacy success from 3 months (or earlier) rather than grade 3.

Published Online: January 20, 2015

Published in Print: January 21, 2015, as Doctors Enlisted in Early-Literacy Campaign

Doctors Enlisted to Deliver Early-Literacy Message

Palmira Miller holds her daughter, Isabelle, at a wellness checkup with nurse Tesfa Gemechu at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, Calif. They are accompanied by Isabelle’s half-sister, Mayah, 3. A project at the hospital promotes the value of reading, talking, and singing to young children.

—Ramin Rahimian for Education Week

Too Small To Fail

Published Online: January 20, 2015

Published in Print: January 21, 2015, as Doctors Enlisted in Early-Literacy Campaign

Doctors Enlisted to Deliver Early-Literacy Message

By Lillian Mongeau

A Brief Excerpt

“Doctors are the newest group of proselytizers to join the national Too Small to Fail campaign encouraging parents to talk, read, and sing to their infants and toddlers as a key precursor to literacy. (Bold mine)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recognized the importance of telling parents to talk to and read with their children. But it has only recently begun advising its doctors to deliver that message for the first time at a child’s two-month checkup. What has been less clear, and never studied systematically, is how to deliver that information in a way that sticks during the 12- to 18-minute visits physicians generally have with families for well-baby checkups.

That’s where Too Small to Fail comes in. Working closely with doctors in Oakland, Calif., and Tulsa, Okla., leaders of the nonprofit effort hope to prove that medical professionals can provide parents with the tools and information they need to improve their child’s vocabulary and early-literacy skills. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, will be tracking the results of the program, which is rolling out at two hospitals in Oakland right now.”


Dialogue Blog Themes












What Goes Around Comes Around…and Around…and Around

I woke up (early) this morning thinking about a program I heard on public radio yesterday. It was a rebroadcast of an interview with Governor Mario Cuomo talking about issues of justice, including poverty and opportunity. The broadcast was originally aired 20 years ago. It reminded me of another story that doesn’t seem to have changed much either in the last 20 (or 30 or 40) years—oral language, literacy, and the achievement gap.

I have been reading online and from text a great deal about the achievement gap and its relationship to oral language development and early literacy skills.   The rebroadcast prompted me to go to my library and find a book on Language in Early Childhood Education, edited by Courtney B. Cazden. It was published in 1972 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Although this book does not directly address the relationship between oral language and literacy or literacy and the achievement gap, it clearly focuses on the relationship between home (language)and school (language) and between the role of disadvantage in learning. In this text Cazden and her colleagues analyzed existing language programs used in preschool, and contrasted effective home and school practices.

Another of my favorite “old” references is a book produced by the National Council of Teachers of English written by Walter Loban: Language Development, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, also published in the 1970’s. In that text Loban traces the language and literacy development of the same 211 children from kindergarten to grade 12. His most telling finding is that the children who start behind, those in the lowest socioeconomic groups, stay behind….unless there is specific intervention. These are not children who differ in innate intellectual ability when they start school.

Loban says: “Although various ethnic backgrounds are included in all three groups (high, low, mixed), the same is not true of socioeconomic background. The high functioning group is definitely skewed in the direction of the most favored socioeconomic conditions; the low functioning group members from the least favored background.”

Eternal optimist that I am, I don’t believe that this recycling has to continue. We know a great deal about oral language development, early literacy, and the achievement gap. We need to know how to put what we know into practice and why what we know isn’t put into practice. I hope this blog will offer insights into how to make that happen by high lighting successful programs and practices.

One of the sources I’ve mentioned before is Listening and Speaking for Preschool Through Third Grade edited by Lauren B. Resnick an Catherine E. Snow, Published by the International Reading Association in 2008.

Three other sources I’m reading now and recommend:

Assessing Preschool Literacy Development by Billie J. Enz an Lesley Mandel Morrow Oral Language and Early Literacy in Preschool: Talking, Reading, and Writing by Kathleen A. Roskos, Patton O. Tabors, and Lisa A. Lehnart

Both were also published in 2009 by The International Reading Association.

A third resource, one of the best articles I have read on early literacy is: Common Core State Standards and Early Childhood Literacy Instruction: Confusion and Conclusions by Jessica Hoffman, Katie Pagica and William Teale. I think this is an extraordinarily balanced treatment of the reading standards in relation to preschool learning. https://www.academia.edu/4622466/Common_Core_State_Standards_and_Early_Childhood_Literacy_Instruction_Confusions_and_Conclusions

Vocabulary Measurement in PreSchool

Assessing vocabulary learning in early childhood

Jessica L Hoffman

Miami University, USA

William H Teale

University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

Kathleen A Paciga

Columbia College Chicago, USA


There is widespread agreement with in the field of early childhood education that vocabulary is important to literacy achievement and that reading aloud can support vocabulary growth. However, there are unexplored and significant problems with the ways we assess young children’s vocabulary learning from read-alouds. This paper critcally reviews the forms of vocabulary assessment commonly used with young children, examining the benefits and drawbacks of each. ….


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